The Criminally Underrated Career of Manu Ginobili

Apr 19, 2018; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) dives for the loose ball Golden State Warriors small forward Kevon Looney (left) in game three of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout the 2000s, the San Antonio Spurs were an absolute dynasty. While Tim Duncan and Tony Parker receive a lot of the credit for this, Manu Ginobili was an essential part of the Spurs’ culture and organization. Ginobili was a fantastic glue player for San Antonio, and he had a stellar all-around game. His craftiness, basketball IQ, and court vision made him an exhilarating player to watch.

Manu has had a very underrated career and doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as he deserves. Today, we’ll examine Ginobili’s career and the immense impact on San Antonio throughout the years.

Shooting guard Manu Ginobili was drafted 57th by the San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 NBA draft as a draft and stash. Even before his NBA days, Ginobili saw great success in the Euroleague. He would help his team the 2001 Italian League Championship and win Euroleague MVP in 2001 and 2002. His first season with the Spurs would be the 2002-2003 season.

Accolades and Records

Jun 18, 2014; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (right) speaks as teammates Tony Parker (left) and Tim Duncan (center) listen during NBA championship celebrations at Alamodome. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Manu Ginobili accomplished a great deal in his sixteen-year career. Some of his accolades include being a two-time all-star, a four-time NBA champion, a two-time all-NBA selection, and the 2007-2008 Sixth Man of the Year. Ginobili captured his four titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014. Ginobili also leads San Antonio’s all-time leader in 3PT field goals made and steals.

For a player who came off the bench most of his career, these stats are very impressive. The Spurs played even better basketball when Ginobili was a starter. They had a win percentage of 72.7% when Manu started for them.

Additionally, Manu very impressively led Argentina to a gold medal in 2004, even beating Team USA.

Ginobili also has the eighth-most playoff wins of all time and the fifth-highest plus-minus ever. He also is top 25 all-time in career wins.

Ginobili averaged 13.3 PPG, 3.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, and 1.3 SPG on 44.7% from the field throughout his career. Even more impressively, he put up these numbers in just 25 minutes per game.

The accolades and statistics show that Manu Ginobili had an immeasurable impact on San Antonio and has had a very underrated career, one of the most underrated in NBA history. Every time Ginobili stepped on the court, he played great basketball for San Antonio game in and game out. San Antonio saw immense success as a result of Ginobili’s great play.


April 24, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (20) reacts during the fourth quarter in game five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ginobili was also very productive in the postseason. He averaged a solid 14/4/3.8/1.3 in about 28 minutes per game in his playoff career.

Ginobili made an impact right away in the playoffs, being a pivotal contributor to the Spurs’ 2003 title. In the 2003 playoffs, Manu had the twelfth highest plus-minus in any playoff by an NBA player.

Manu Ginobili played his best basketball in the Spurs’ 2005 playoff run. Ginobili would average 20.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG, and 4.2 APG on 65 TS%. When Ginobili was�off�the floor in the 2005 playoffs, the Spurs were 19.9 points worse per 100 possessions. These feats are awe-inspiring given that Ginobili came off the bench 8 of the 23 games he played those playoffs.

The Spurs would go on to win it all in 2005, in large part to Ginobili. Ginobili averaged 18.7/5.9/4 on 63.3 TS% in the finals. Ginobili had some fantastic games in the 2005 finals against the Pistons. For example, he had 26 points in Game 1, 27 in Game 2, and 23 in Game 7. He was key in helping the Spurs won it all in 2005, and they wouldn’t be able to without him.

Overall, Ginobili has played some excellent basketball in the finals. He is first all-time in plus-minus in the finals with +177, ranking above some of the all-time greats. There is a gap of +20 between Ginobili and the second-highest player to give you an idea of just how impactful Ginobili was in the finals.

Manu’s Legacy

Nov 11, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Former San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker's jersey is revealed beside the jersey of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili during Parker's retirement ceremony at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
 Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Manu Ginobili has genuinely had an underrated career. He is widely regarded as the greatest sixth man in NBA history, and one of the best second-round picks ever. Ginobili is also a consensus top-five player in San Antonio Spurs history. Additionally, his #20 was retired by the Spurs in October of 2018.

Ginobili and the Spurs have gone head-to-head with some of the all-time greats. In many of these duels, the Spurs would be victorious.

The Spurs dynasty would not be complete without the terrific play of Ginobili. His impact was immense, as seen by his staggering statistics. He was a crafty leader with excellent on-count awareness and a very polished game on both the offensive and defensive end.

Ginobili certainly deserves more praise for his excellent career. He indeed has had an underrated career and needs more credit for the impact he had and his accolades. It may take some time for induction, but he deserves a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame when his time comes.

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